Archive for July 15th, 2014

The Smartest Kids in The World . and how they got that way. Amanda Ripley

English: Two pupils wearing the uniform of Ken...

The Smartest Kids in The World . and how they got that way. Amanda Ripley. 2013. ISBN 9781451654424.  The author ( a journalist)  became interested in this subject when she found that the US   elementary and high school students were not improving their academic scores at all over 40 years of different initiatives, whereas  countries like Finland, Poland, Korea and Canada made dramatic improvements. Also in the countries with the better results, the  business world is blossoming The insult to injury point was that the US is the second highest spender on education in the world.  How can this be?

A recent Macleans article  was titled The Dumbing Down of Education. Yet US high school students already are often graduated with inadequate skills to be useful citizens. How does this happen was her question? so she traveled to S Korea, Poland and Finland to talk with and observe students. The observations will impress you.

Its not because these countries have the best and most technology in the classrooms, just the opposite.  Its not due to a very regimented top down system – students have more choice in  these countries and are not always in school with only a focus on the 3Rs.  ( In the US math scores are decline steadily). They actually have free time.

Its not because the arts are downplayed to the sciences . Again the reverse is true, students obtain a well rounded eductionIt is true that these countries have very high admission requireemnts for teaching schools and often require the teachers to obtain a masters degree before teaching.  The teaching  schools have high standards and thus do not train way more teachers than they need.  And they pay teachers quite a high scale – often near that of a doctor.   So these countries attract and keep the best teachers – who can challenge students in the classroom

From Kindergarten on,  school is deemed very important with parents involved with their children mostly in the early years and much special education  available  so no student gets left behind.  Sports takes a decided back seat to none at all.

Prior to school leaving there is a very long and comprehensive high school graduation test that students must take to move onto other education.  In Finland it is over 5 days. In Korea it is over 2 days.  And they are serious tests.  You fail you can take it again next year. Full stop.

You will enjoy this book and if you have children it will give you lots to think about.